How to join Mastodon Social Network + Migration tool

published 2022-11-21 · updated 2023-01-01 #how_to #mastodon #foss #social_media
Mastodon is a component of the “Fediverse,” also known as the “federated universe,” which is a group of unrestricted, decentralized, and loosely coordinated servers.


Please excuse any grammatical errors. I used a tool to generate the transcript and haven't had a chance to read through it yet.

So let's talk about mastodon. There's a lot of videos out there on why you should sign up for Mastodon, but I thought I would make a video on what it is a step by step guide with a live demo on how to sign up some basic usage, importing your Twitter followers and how to log into the mobile app. It's also important to realize that you shouldn't see Mastodon as a direct replacement for Twitter, or wonder if it can replace Twitter. It's a different platform, it's going to be a different community. So I suggest just checking it out, giving it a try seeing what you think, and kind of going from there. So before we go into the step by step of how to sign up for an account on Mastodon, I want to first talk about what it is and what it means to be a federated service. If you already understand the basics of Mastodon, you can skip this part, I will have the timestamps in the play bar below. So Mastodon is a federated service, which means it's a group of servers hosted by individuals, even you could host your own if you wanted, and they're federated together, which means they have a common communication protocol, which lets each individual server interact with one another. To understand that a little bit better. Let's take a look at some pictures. So the first example is what a non federated service looks like. So if you, the user want to sign up for, you go to the one location of Twitter, which is users sign up and they interact with each other on that platform. Another example is Facebook. If you want to sign up for Facebook, you go to, sign up with an account, and you interact with users on that platform. But for all intents and purposes, these two platforms operate independent of one another. If you're searching for something on Twitter, if you're posting to Twitter, you're not going to be interacting with anyone on Facebook, there's a hard line between the platforms, they are run by a singular organization. There's no Twitter to Twitter, three, Facebook to you sign up on one platform, it's all centralized. And all content and interaction happens on that singular instance. So again, this is an example of a non federated centralized service. So now before we talk about Mastodon, let's talk about another federated service that you are most likely already using, but did not realize it. So email is a federated service, you can sign up on different providers, whether that's Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, proton mail. And so even though you signed up for your email address on these individual platforms, someone on proton mail can send an email to someone on Gmail, and vice versa. These platforms are all independently operated, but they use a common protocol, which lets them communicate with one another, which is why email is considered federated. Another example would be cell phone service, you can call another number that's on another carrier, T Mobile AT and T you could even call someone from the United States to someone in Europe and communicate. They're all operated by individual companies. But they use an agreed upon standard which lets them communicate with one another scenario that we saw an example of a non federated service, a federated service, such as email, let's talk about Mastodon specifically. So Mastodon is not a centralized service. It is Foss, or free and open source software that is run on different servers operated by different individuals or groups on what are referred to as instances. So what you have here is you'll have someone hosting a mastodon instance, you have other individuals or groups again, hosting the same software running on their server that they control. And then what makes Mastodon a federated service is that each of these instances that are operated by different groups or individuals use an agreed upon protocol that allows them to communicate and interact with one another. So as you'll see, shortly, when we sign up for an account, we're going to pick a specific instance where we sign up with our account. So for example, let's say we sign up for an account on Tiger since Mastodon is a federated service. Even though we just signed up on this singular instance, we will be able to communicate with anyone on a different instance. So you sign up on Tiger, you can still talk with someone on lizard or fish, they'll be able to search for you and your content, they'll be able to see your posts, but this is mostly so you can get the basic understanding that it is a decentralized service comprised of different instances run by individuals and groups that can all talk with one another. No singular organization controls the mastodon network. It's a group of instances that can communicate with one another that creates the federated network. So that was a basic overview of Mastodon and how a federated network operates. If that just made it more confusing, don't worry, the actual signup might make things a little bit clearer once you can see it. So the first step for actually signing up for a mastodon account is to head on over to join As always, links will be down below in the description. Once you get here, we're going to select Create Account. And so like I mentioned in the example, we're going to have a bunch of instances that we can select from ritually sign up for our account. And so the reason we're going to join to find a server is that while this isn't a list of all servers that are out there, it's a list of servers that have committed to the mastodon covenant, which is a good starting point. Like I said, these servers are operated by individuals or small organizations, which means that those individuals or groups control the content that can appear on there as well. As how those servers are run, such as backups and different things like that. So at the bare minimum, at least know the servers listed here committed to the following four items, which is a good starting point. And just because you don't see a server listed here doesn't mean it's bad. It just means that the operator did not submit their server to be indexed here. So the instance you choose is kind of like selecting your local bar or pub that you might frequent. And once you get in there, you can still communicate with everyone else, it's just that that location you selected is your entry point into the network. Let's say that your Pub is located in North America. And you want to find one that has the same interest as you so that when you enter there, first UC people that like to talk about the same things. In my case, North America, I like technology, some locations might require you to apply for an account. But for the sake of this example, I want an instant account. And so now we're looking at instances that are legally based in North America with the topic of technology that have instant sign up. So I'm just going to pick this IOC data exchange. But regardless of what I initially choose, I can still interact with anyone on the mastodon network. And one more thing before we sign up, if you're like me and afraid of commitment, do not worry, you can sign up for an instance. And if for some reason you don't like the people that are on there, you can always migrate and switch to a different one at a later time. So take your time look around to try out different instances until you find one that you'd like. So to actually sign up, we're going to click Create Account. And we are now taken to the homepage for this instance, which is IOC data exchange, as we can see in our browser. So as I was mentioning about looking around and checking out the instance, before you actually join, once you get to the homepage, you can kind of take a look around and see what the posts look like. You can see some stats about the server, this IOC that exchange has 17,000 active users, you can check out the Explorer option, local, they give a little explanation here, these are the most recent public posts from people whose accounts are hosted by IOC data exchange. So again, local to the instance that we are on currently, there is then the federated option. And these are the most recent public posts from people on this and other servers on the decentralized network that the server knows about. So let's say that someone on IOC that exchange follows another user on a different federated server. And since someone on IOC that exchange is following someone on mastodon.rt, those two servers know about each other in the federated network, which is why you see posts from mastodon.rt on the federated page. And so as far as researching the instance that you want to sign up for goes, here, we have who it's administered by, again, server stats, we can click learn more, we can kind of see some details about it, the server roles. And so since this is decentralized, and individuals are hosting these instances, you can see some details about the hosting. So here we have, it's hosted in Linode. It's costing them around $300 a month, where media files are hosted different details like that. So each of the servers here should have some sort of information like that. So if we take out, so we check out tech hub dot social. Again, we can see who it's administered by 42,000 active users. Learn more, we can see details about it. So look through different servers, check out the local content, see if it's things you're interested in. There's a lot of servers to choose from. So take your time and test them out. So for this example, like I said, I'm going to create an account on IOC that exchange. So create an account, just some ground rules, except, so your display name is what will show on your profile. So in my case, I'm just going to put side of burritos, your user name, this is going to be your handle on mastodon. So I'm just going to do side of burritos, enter your email address, password, agree and sign up. Select most online accounts, you need to go click the confirmation link that went to your email address. Once you click that, you'll then be able to login.

So we're back I just clicked the confirmation message in my email, we can see we're presented with a page of individuals we can follow. Click the plus to follow people if you want. So we just followed these two individuals. So this is the home feed, we can see here the individuals that I followed a little bit earlier. On the left side here we have or we can write whatever we want and then publish it along with different options, add photos, who can view it different things like that. Bottom right, we have things that are trending on the right side notifications explorer local. So again, just explore click around you can see different things. There's a couple things I want to cover on the actual profile page. So I'm going to go to my profile. This is not my actual profile. I just signed up with this for an example. So don't try and follow this. And so what I want to note on this page, so if you used Twitter, you might have seen that you had a handle. Mine was outside of burritos, but on Mastodon there's one extra part on here, which is the actual domain of the instance that we signed up for, in my case IOC data exchange. And the reason for this is that this username that I configured on IOC that exchange is unique to this instance. So if we go back to the mastodon servers page, someone could also go ahead and create an account, which is outside of burritos at Tech Hub dot social because user names are unique per instance on the mastodon network. So now what you might be thinking is well, that could lead to a lot of impersonations, or someone making a fake profile and a different instance and pretending to be you or, or me in this example. And that could definitely be a problem. And so that's why I want to talk about how you can validate someone on Mastodon to make sure it's the individual that you're actually looking for. So my actual account where I am on Mastodon is at side of burritos at info, sec dot exchange. So we search for that we find my actual profile here, again, InfoSec. That exchange is the actual Mastodon instance that I signed up with. If you go to a profile on Mastodon and see a green box like this, that means the user validated, they own the domain or URL listed. The validation works by adding a small bit of code to the listed website that tells this Mastodon instance that my profile is associated with that domain, only someone that owns the actual domain they are claiming could add this code to it, which is why this works for validating domain ownership. So if you know someone is associated with a specific domain, and they validated it, this is a good indication that the profile is valid, and they are who they claim to be. You can validate domains under your profile settings. So in my case, I validated that I owned the site of I have my newsletter, if we go to those actual URLs, we can see that is indeed the actual site. So that's just one way to validate someone is who they say they are. Another way to validate an account is to go to a site where you know, that individual already has an account. So in my case, there's my Twitter page and my display name, I added my actual Mastodon account. So again, this is another way to validate my actual profile. So while this might sound a little bit confusing, at first, this is honestly just good practice to validate online profiles. Go to known good sources, such as Twitter, or YouTube channel, or someone's individual website, and validate that actually claimed that they own a profile that you're seeing for them, and it's not someone impersonating them. Oh, and one more thing, while we're on the topic of validation, if you see a checkmark or a blue checkmark on Mastodon, anyone can add those, it's just a little icon, I added a burrito that does not have the same meaning as a checkmark on Twitter, not that checkmarks on Twitter mean much anymore. But just be careful if you see a blue checkmark on Mastodon, don't assume that has any meaning behind it. And on the topic of getting set up, there's a couple tools that exist that allow you to find your existing followers on Twitter that already have Mastodon accounts, the one I'll be demonstrating with is deeper certify. Again, links will be down below in the description. And so what this does is connects to your Twitter account with Read Only permissions. And it'll look through your followers or those you follow. And it'll look for their account name, they might have listed on their profile. So in my case, I have it in my display name. It also searches for pin tweets, different things like that. And if it finds a mastodon account, it lets you export it, and then you can import that to your profile. So it's an easier way to find people and kind of already get set up on the platform. So I'll just run through an example. So authorized with Twitter, I'm going to authorize this app. So on an unrelated point to this video, always be careful authorizing apps don't just authorize some random app to your account. As we can see here, it's going to be able to see the tweets from your timeline that so can look through my pin tweet and see if I have an account listed there. It's going to be able to see my profile information. And then it's also going to be able to see those I follow mute and block someone to authorize app. I want to search followed accounts. We can see here that it searched 35 Twitter accounts. That's how many accounts I'm following. It goes through which instances they are on. It's all for mastodon. Here's the details of those users. At the very bottom, I can download a CSV for export for Mastodon import. I'm going to do that. So now we're going to go back to Mastodon where we created our account, we're going to go into preferences. On the left hand side, import and export and go to import. The import type is following list. This is going to be people who I was following. I'm going to leave it set to the default of merge choose file. Following accounts. This is the CSV export from the Berta fi going to click Upload. Your data was successfully uploaded and will be processed in due time. If we go back to Mastodon I'm going to go to my profile. And we can now see that I'm following 12 accounts on mastodon. That's how many accounts the Berta fi found out of the 35 individuals that I was following. So this is a quick way to import any of the accounts who were following on Twitter if those individuals added their profile information to their Twitter account. And since this is a popular tool, I would suggest that if you sign up for a mastodon account, add that to your display name on Twitter so that if someone else uses this tool to import their followers or those they're following to their Mastodon account, they'll be able to find you and start following you. So now that we signed up for an account, like most things, you might want to access that on your mobile device. So I want to walk through that and show you how to set that up. So once you open the app, we're going to select login. And I think this is the part where most people get confused. So since we signed up on a specific instance, IOC that exchange, that's the URL that we need to use inside the app to actually sign into our account, since that's where our account exists. So I'm going to search for my server IOC dot exchange.

Here it is selected. Next, we're taking the login page. So I'm going to sign in.

And so as long as you selected the correct instance, where you initially created your account, your email address and password will work for authentication, you're going to see this page where you need to authorize the app with the ability to actually access your account. I'm going to allow it Authorize. And at this point, you're in the app, you can post information, see your profile, see who you're following everything like that. So if you have any difficulties, remember, you need to select the exact server that you signed up for an account on. If you don't, your sign in will not work. So that's Mastodon if you want to follow me or tag me in a post or slide into my DMs Feel free. So far, my experience has been positive. So I hope you have a similar experience after you sign up. I'm excited to see what the future holds. A big shake up on any platform is always kind of exciting leads to interesting times and whether the shake up leads to permanent platform changes or temporary ones. It's still far too early to tell